What better way to spend a sunny Sunday afternoon, than to take a long hike along the river ...
We recently heard that the towpath from Teston to Tovil has now been made accessible for walkers, so last weekend, after parking in Teston Country Park, we headed along the river towards Barming Bridge, with Polly and Betty trotting eagerly along beside us. They love exploring new walks!
Although not far from where we live, I had never seen Barming Bridge before, so couldn't resist crossing to see where it led and just other other side, found a very friendly golden retriever waiting to say hello to my two! Originally a picturesque wooden construction, also known as 'Kettle Bridge', Barming Bridge was replaced with a steel structure in 1996 - apparently the wooden bridge wasn't too reliable and had been the site of an accident in 1914 when a 10 ton traction engine fell through the bridge into the river below. Oops!
We meandered towards East Farleigh, enjoying the peace and taking care not to trip over huge fishing rods staggered along the pathway. The local fishermen have some serious equipment as it seems the fish are jumpin' along this particular stretch of the riverbank!
As we neared East Farleigh, we saw barges and river folk relaxing by the water ... my girls couldn't quite believe their doggy eyes to see dogs in life jackets sailing down the middle of the river!
We've driven over 14th Century Farleigh Bridge many times, but have never walked beneath its arches to the Lock the other side, so it was lovely to see this beautiful Kentish ragstone bridge from a fresh perspective.
We continued to walk along the river until we reached the outskirts of Tovil, where the land along the river was divided into little pockets of fenced green space. It was interesting to see discreet areas of landscaping activity at intermittent spots in this overgrown area as owners attempted to reclaim the land from Mother Nature's tangled claim. As we neared Tovil and the path became busier with cyclists and walkers, we turned back towards East Farleigh to retrace the towpath back towards Teston and our car ... in eager anticipation of an ice-cream van!
We passed through a field of long horned Highland Cattle on our return. Those big beasties looked magnificent but I swear I saw a glint in one fellow's eye as he and Polly caught sight of each another - I thanked heavens my girls were both safely on their leads in that field, gulp!
It was sad to see poor ol' Teston Bridge scaffolded and firmly closed to all traffic and boats after recently being hit by a drunk driver. Hopefully this fabulous medieval bridge will be safely back in action in the not too distant future and the drunk driver will have learned a serious life lesson.
Eight and a half kilometres after first setting out on our river walk, we located our ice-cream and a bench upon which to rest our weary legs while we indulged. The park, a popular spot with families on sunny days, was filled with the mouth watering aroma of barbecued sausages, as children played happily on the field with balls and bats; needless to say, as much as they would have preferred to explore, my tired girlies stayed on their leads and settled on the grass for a well earned rest. After all, even weary goldies can't be completely trusted when there's barbecued sausage in the air!